While most people take up running to improve their physical well being, perhaps shed a few pounds, the real revelation comes when their mental and psychological state also improves markedly as running releases its warm bath of brain chemicals bringing a deep sense of calm and equanimity.
“The Runners High is one of my favorite parts of this sport,” tweeted U.S. Olympic steeplechase medalist Evan Jager. “Cruising at the end of a long run but feeling effortless…”
The feeling running engenders is another reason runners tend to bond across a wide spectrum of age and speed. It’s not just the camaraderie of effort, but the fact that the sport seems to be about 99% a-hole free. Not sure if that is chicken or egg, whether such people are drawn to the activity, or the activity itself helps create that quality in its practitioners over time.
But for anyone who has gone through the long struggle from first training days to final exultant step of a goal achieved – like the thousands who completed yesterday’s Austin Marathon and Half-Marathon – there is an attendant grace and humility from champion to final finisher, because they know it could have gone off the rails any number of times along the way.
So when we think RUNNER we may think self-control, or self-possession, but we don’t generally think self-centered, much less narcissist, because at its core narcissism reflects a very low self-esteem, and running has been shown to contribute to a healthy, balanced psyche. (more…)